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Cultural Ecology

Sense of Place

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In 1974, the United Nations called upon all interested bodies to promote 'learning for living'. This means growing up in a community where learning is a neighbourhood participatory process dedicated to families and individuals taking responsibility for the quality of their own environment. Their roles are as parents, employers, employees, producers, consumers, and taxpayers, as one community among the millions populating the earth. The culture of a community is a dynamic association of livelihoods, skills and shared sense of place. Participatory involvement requires a broad understanding about who benefits from the fruits of work, who benefits from what is bought and sold, and the degree to which consumerism enhances or degrades the local heritage.

The adoption of a UK national curriculum dedicated to passing examinations set within traditional subject divisions has obscured the fact that traditional subjects are iinadequate navigational aids to support the 21st century expectations. 

An example of the need for the educational system to produce a mind-set and confidence in crossing traditional academic boundaries is the practical problem of the establishment of the Weija Reservoir in Ghana. The objective of this massive project was to provide a water supply for more than two million inhabitants of the rapidly growing city of Accra. To obtain a practical body of knowledge to evaluate the impact of this project requires developing an information database encompassing at least 16 topics each locked into a separate specialist academic subject.

Exploitation of natural resources involves many production lines, blending and separating in multipinnate schemes, often of great complexity.The best way to present this knowledge system is as a rhizome. Unlike a 'tree of knowledge', a 'rhizome of knowledge' resists hierarchical structures of domination. It has no beginning or end; it is always in the middle, between things.